State of the Climbing Industry: 2014 Recap and 2015 Expectations

climbing wallAccording to Climbing Business Journal’s 2014 Climbing Gyms & Trends article, the climbing industry is continuing to grow and change. Even though growth wasn’t quite as high as expected, the industry is strong and positioned for continued success. Here are some highlights from the article (Note: Read the original article on CBJ):

1. The U.S. climbing gym market grew 9% in 2014 (compared to 10% in 2013).

2. The 9% growth rate is less than what was projected, primarily due to big projects missing their timelines.

3. In 2014, 29 new gyms were completed and 3 existing gyms found new locations.

4. Of the 29 new gyms, 14 were bouldering-only gyms. California alone got 4 new bouldering gyms.

5. CBJ reports their are now a total of 353 commercial climbing facilities in the U.S.

6. Climbing gyms continue to have a very low rate of closure (only 2 in 2014).

Now, for the fun stuff. Based on what was happening in 2014, here are some forward-thinking projections from Climbing Business Journal for how 2015 will shape up.

First, real estate is a consideration. We’ve already started to see that prospective gym owners are struggling to find suitable buildings for climbing gyms. The needs of climbing gyms include high ceilings, large square footage totals, parking, location, price, etc., and if the space isn’t perfect or cost-effective to make perfect, buying existing buildings may not make the most sense. Owners are starting to build their new facilities from scratch to respond to the lack of suitable real estate. CBJ expects to see more new climbing gyms breaking ground on new constructions rather than buying preexisting buildings for 2015.

Secondly, we’ll also probably continue to see climbing gyms multi-tasking by incorporating fitness studios, yoga programs, weight-lifting and other cross-training types of activities into their business model. But, while some are multitasking in one location, others are specializing. The growth of bouldering-only gyms last year is evidence of that.

Thirdly, we’re starting to see more growth from existing companies opening additional facilities, especially traditional gyms opening bouldering gyms or established gyms adding locations in other areas of a metropolis. Also in line with this, we’re seeing more established companies open additional facilities, both in their home region and in new regions. An area of interest is new facilities in areas without established climbing communities (like the Midwest where there isn’t much outdoor climbing). So while we’re still seeing owners new to the scene opening up gyms, this idea of gym companies will several locations is becoming a new norm. It shows the stability in the industry and the potential for climbing gym companies to be successful.

Finally, since the industry is becoming more established and experienced, we’re seeing older facilities upgrading or building new sites to replace their old locations. Some are going bigger, some just newer, but this is a pivotal time where we’re seeing what happens when a gym gets outdated.

For more information, charts and statistics, check out the original article by Climbing Business Journal.

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5 Unique Climbing Wall Designs to Inspire Your Next Project

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of innovation and creativity, especially where our products are concerned. Today we’re talking about unique climbing wall designs, some of which were created in the spirit of fun and reaching new heights, others with a specific purpose in mind. Read on to see 5 of our favorites from around the country. Bonus points for spotting a TRUBLUE!

1. Mountain Dew Can at Miller Park:

The Milwaukee Brewers’ stadium, Miller Park, includes this 25-foot rock wall modeled after a can of Mountain Dew on the Dew Deck. Open since 2013, the wall is managed by Adventure Rock of Brookfield, Wisconsin and is open during every Brewers home game to guests on the Dew Deck. The Brewers’ Dew wall is said to be the first permanent wall in a Major League Baseball stadium.

Photo Credit: Adventure Rock

Photo Credit: Adventure Rock

2. Rubix Cube:

This complex Rubix cube rock wall was built by Adventure Solutions as part of their PlayClimb Xtreme line of products (see more unique walls here). Beyond just looking unique, this wall looks challenging to climb, great for kids and experienced climbers alike.

Photo Credit: Adventure Solutions

Photo Credit: Adventure Solutions

3. Grand Canyon wall for Super Bowl:

This 30-foot-tall by 100-feet wide wall is designed to look like the Grand Canyon. The wall will be within Super Bowl Central in downtown Phoenix and features an 18-foot waterfall meant to symbolize the Colorado River. Twenty people can climb the wall at one time, with each climb costing $5. The Grand Canyon wall will be open from January 28, 2015 to February 1, 2015.

Photo Credit: AZ Super Bowl Host Committee

Photo Credit: AZ Super Bowl Host Committee

4. Twin Peaks:

The first climbing wall inside a restaurant, Twin Peaks Las Vegas features a 39-foot indoor wall that complements their outdoor motif. Guests can climb for $10 ($5 for children) and may even get to race their server up the wall.

Photo Credit: Twin Peaks

Photo Credit: Twin Peaks

5. BaseCamp Climbing Facility:

The tallest climbing wall in the world was built by Entre-Prises on the side of a building in Reno, Nevada. Topping out around 200 feet (61 meters), the wall features different routes covering varying heights to accommodate everything from beginner climbers to speed climbing competitions.

Photo Credit: Entre-Prises US

Photo Credit: Entre-Prises US

Do you have a unique wall to share? Share it with us on Instagram!

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QUICKjump in Climbing Gyms: Arizona on the Rocks and Beacon Climb

Climbing gym owners and operators may assume the only Head Rush device applicable to them is the TRUBLUE Auto Belay. That would make sense since the TRUBLUE was, in fact, designed for climbing, but we’re all about innovation and part of that is thinking outside the box of where our devices can go. A prime example is installing a QUICKjump Free Fall Device into climbing gyms as a value-added perk for customers.

While this trend is still ramping up, we have two great examples to share with you of how, exactly, a QUICKjump could fit into your existing climbing gym space. Pricing for a QUICKjump starts at $2,995 USD.

Arizona on the Rocks

Photo Credit: AZ on the Rocks

Photo Credit: Arizona on the Rocks

Marketed primarily for kids, Arizona on the Rocks uses their QUICKjump for birthday parties, camps, and special events. But don’t let this fool you, adults love the free fall just as much as the kids, as can be seen in their photos. See more setup and platform photos on the Arizona on the Rocks Facebook page.

With a setup like this, it’s probably best to limit the hours of the QUICKjump so as to not impact climbing on the nearby routes. But even with limited hours and including jumping in the price of parties, events, or passes/memberships, installing a QUICKjump would set you apart from other climbing gyms in your area.

Beacon Climbing Centre

Photo Credit: Beacon Climbing Centre

Photo Credit: Beacon Climbing Centre

Beacon Climbing Centre uses their QUICKjump a little differently than Arizona on the Rocks. At Beacon, there are set hours for jumping and additional fees. Jumpers climb up a ladder to a designated QUICKjump platform and make the 10 meter jump down attached to the QUICKjump Free Fall Device. See more photos of the setup and platform on Beacon Climbing’s website.

Beacon has different hours based on when school is in session, but every climbing gym would have different times of peak activity to schedule jumps around. If the jumping lane impacted climbing routes, you’d maybe want to set times based around the workday or school day, with more options on weekends when you perhaps have more kids and families in the gym. Don’t be afraid to include a time-slot in the evenings to catch the interested adults as well. Beacon charges 6 Euros (roughly $7 USD) per jump and has bundle pricing for one jump and an hour of climbing.

The point here is whether you have limited hours or open availability, include a jump with membership or charge additional fees, or only use your QUICKjump for special events and parties, there is no right or wrong way to use a QUICKjump in your climbing gym. Play around with your options, talk to your customers, but no matter what decisions you make, a QUICKjump is a low-cost investment that could increase your revenues and amplify fun in your facility.

Not convinced? Check out the ROI chart to see how quickly your QUICKjump could pay for itself.

If you’re a climbing gym with a QUICKjump, we’d love to hear how it’s going! Send us a quick note to info@headrushtech.com and you could be featured in a future blog post.

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4 Steps to Learn to Lead Climb

learn to lead post - TBTop-roping and bouldering is fun, but to take your climbing to the next level, you’ll need to learn to lead climb. We recommend learning this in the gym, using a TRUBLUE Auto Belay. Remember, lead climbing is a skill and takes practice so be patient learning each step, and most importantly, have fun. Here it is: learn to lead climb in 4 easy steps.

Four Steps to Learn to Lead Climb

1. Learn how to clip:

Practice this while on the ground before taking it up on the wall. Two options:

  • 1) Snap Clip: Pinch the rope between your thumb and pointer finger. Control the quickdraw with your middle finger and use your thumb and pointer finger to push the rope through the gate.
  • 2) Pinch Clip: Drape the rope over your pointer finger. Control the quickdraw by pinching it between your thumb and middle finger and push the rope through the gate with your pointer finger.

2. Practice clipping with a TRUBLUE:

One of the easiest and safest ways to learn to lead climb is while clipped into an auto belay. The TRUBLUE acts as your belayer while you practice and get more comfortable with lead climbing. Get up on a wall and practice clipping using both the snap and pinch clips.

3. Practice falling:

Falling is scary, and potentially dangerous, so you’ll want to find an experienced belayer and practice taking falls. Start small on easy routes and work your way up to larger distances on harder climbs.

4. Continue to practice clipping, climbing, and falling until you feel comfortable.

Lead climbing is super fun and adventurous, but it’s important to be prepared. Keep practicing and be safe out there.

Still confused about lead climbing? Watch the video of Boulder Rock Club’s Chris Wall demonstrating these steps.

 

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Stay in Climbing Shape for Winter With the 8-week Reach Your Peak Program

CU Rec Center Low Res 017

It’s that time of year. The weather has turned cool enough to thwart your outdoor climbing ambitions but you want to avoid the weight-gain and fitness loss that can come from a long winter. We’ve got you covered—if you have a climbing gym with an auto belay nearby, you can stay in peak shape with Reach Your Peak, our free, self-guided 8-week training program.

What’s Reach Your Peak?

Reach Your Peak is an eight-week training program that utilizes the TRUBLUE Auto Belay to help climbers improve their skills and reach their personal fitness goals. If your goal is general fitness, the program gets you in the gym. If you are a new climber, the program will give you weekly goals to help you improve technique, build strength, develop confidence, and become a better climber. If you’re an experienced climber, the program will help you commit to a routine to work on routes, refine technique, and keep up your momentum and fitness level leading into next season.

Reach Your Peak is designed to help climbers of any level improve overall health, improve endurance, rebound from life changing events such as pregnancy or injury, and enhance existing skill-sets. Of course, there are other unintended side effects that have been seen from following this program, including:

  • Healthy weight-loss
  • Overall feeling of increased “coolness”
  • New-found passion for climbing
  • Toned and strong physique
  • Increased popularity from making new friends at the gym
  • Less tired and sluggish at work
  • Better sleep

How Reach Your Peak Works

Reach Your Peak is a free, downloadable program, meaning you can start when you choose and do the assignments at your own pace and on your own time. Find a partner to keep you motivated or tackle it solo. The program utilizes TRUBLUE Auto Belays so you don’t need a partner or belayer. Each week has a general focus, with related homework to help you progress. Click here to download the program.

Week 1 is about setting goals and determining your current climbing abilities. You’ll be asked to evaluate yourself and keep a journal to track your progress.

Week 2 is about taking your previous weeks’ assessment  and stepping it up a notch. You’ll be asked to practice foot placement through traversing and climbing doubles.

Week 3 is split up—beginners learn to lead climb and advance climbers traverse the entire gym twice (and then practice lead climbing in the homework).

Week 4 is about going back to the beginning and putting it all together, working your way up in difficulty after each successful route, but upping the difficulty by also incorporating a lead rope.

Week 5 is about red-pointing, or picking a route above your skill level and working it repeatedly.

Week 6 is about mastering last weeks’ challenge route, eventually doing two laps consecutively.

Week 7 is about taking your challenge route up a notch, this time aiming for three consecutive laps.

Week 8 is testing day, repeating week one lessons to see how far you’ve come.

How To Incorporate Reach Your Peak Programs Into Your Climbing Gym

Even through Reach Your Peak can be done as an individual training program, it transfers perfectly to a group activity. If you’re a climbing gym owner and want to run a Reach Your Peak program, all you need is an instructor (or two), a signup process, and targeted marketing. It works best to have the group meet weekly at the gym to talk about that days’ lesson plan, then set everyone loose to do their work, while the instructor checks in on everyone. Then gather at the end of the time to discuss what everyone should do for homework until the next meeting.

Ok, enough talking. Let’s get started—who’s with us? Download Reach Your Peak today.

 

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Demo a TRUBLUE Auto Belay Today!

CU Rec Center Low Res 017

Are you interested in TRUBLUE Auto Belays, but hesitant? Are you not quite sure how auto belays would be received in your facility? Do you want to order TRUBLUEs but would like to see the hard data before you commit? Sounds like you’re a perfect candidate for risk-free 60-day demos to see for yourself.

How Does The TRUBLUE Demo Program Work?

The demo program is quite simple. Let us know you’re interested, sign the basic demo agreement and we’ll send you the devices (you read that right – you can get as many TRUBLUEs as your space allows). At the end of the demo period, either pay for the devices and keep them or send them back. We’ll even cover the cost of shipping both ways.

So It’s Risk and Cost-Free?

That’s right. Head Rush Tech assumes all the risk for the demo program. You pay nothing unless you keep the devices. We’re so confident in our products and their revolutionary eddy current magnetic braking technology that we’ll put our money where our mouths are. We’ll assume this risk because we know you will see how the TRUBLUEs can help increase revenue, mitigate risk, and satisfy customers.

How To Sign Up

If you’re ready to sign up for a 60-day demo or want to learn more, click the link here and fill out the form or just give us a call!. What are you waiting for?!

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TRUBLUE Featured on a Challenge Course on Brazilian Reality Show

We keep talking about how to use a TRUBLUE Auto Belay outside of a climbing gym, and today we’re back with another option. On a recent episode of Brazilian reality show, A Fazenda (The Farm), participants had to complete an obstacle course – most of it several feet off the ground. It’s common to have participants in activities like this harnessed and strapped to prevent serious falls, but this is one of the first times we’ve seen a TRUBLUE serve as the protection mechanism.

From what I can tell (the show isn’t in English), it’s similar to Survivor or other reality shows, where contestants live together, making meals, making friends and in some cases, making enemies, with the final contestant winning a cash prize. They then have challenges – in this episode it was an challenge course – to complete. The course was made of tires and metal structures that contestants had to climb on, around and over. They were wearing full-body harnesses with a dorsal attachment for the TRUBLUE. This application is perfect because as contestants climb, the webbing retracts with them (no extra ropes to deal with) and as they climb down or jump down, they have a controlled descent. To make this work, the TRUBLUE is mounted to a cable running over the obstacle course. As the contestant moves through the course, the TRUBLUE is always above them.

Start watching at about the 42 minute mark to see the TRUBLUE in action. At 43:02, you can watch the first contestant jump from the top of one structure down to the next, gracefully carried by the TRUBLUE. Just after 48:15 you can see the real benefit of a TRUBLUE in this application – possibly preventing injury when slipping. The TRUBLUE portion of the show ends around the 58 minute mark. Enjoy the show!

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Power Linemen Schools Using TRUBLUEs to Train Utility Pole Climbers

DSC_0052Designed for climbers, the TRUBLUE Auto Belay is perfect for climbing gyms, rock walls and camps, but as we’ve talked about recently (see the unique uses for TRUBLUE post here), this technology has far more applications than just recreation. Here at Head Rush, we’re exploring using TRUBLUEs in more varied settings, like to teach linemen to climb and self-arrest.

Linemen, or the people who climb utility poles, are responsible for installation and making repairs so that we can have reliable electricity in our homes and businesses. This job is dangerous. There are hundreds of linemen schools around the country that teach not only how to work on the power lines, but how to climb. In years past, linemen were taught to free climb. These climbers learned how to climb utility poles, how to recover themselves if they started to fall and how to stay as safe as possible while working. Nowadays, there is a shift toward using fall protection devices, which some say takes away the skill of climbing.

DSC_0075After watching the shifts in the industry, veteran linemen teacher Scott Meinecke decided to adapt his program to not only teach the basics of linemen work and climbing, but to put more importance on learning fall-arrest. While the hope is that no one falls while climbing these utility poles, either in school or in the field, it does happen. Linemen lose their footing, or balance, and have mere moments to arrest the fall and hopefully walk away from the incident without serious injury. Scott realized how vital fall arrest is for successful linemen and went searching for a solution to help. He found TRUBLUE Auto Belays. 

This use of TRUBLUEs is new and unique, but showing signs of real promise. With nearly limitless cycle counts and a delayed catch, the modular TRUBLUE allows students to build the skills to climb and the muscle memory to self-arrest so they can employ those skills when they need them most. Here’s what Scott had to say about using TRUBLUEs in his classes:

The key difference [between TRUBLUE and other auto belay systems] is that the initial fall catch is delayed – in essence, a climber falls as if nothing were attached for the first few feet until the device gently arrests the fall and lowers them slowly to the ground. This allows the climber to develop the self-arrest skill. It forces my students to once again develop the proper climbing techniques that will result in a better, more confident climber!”

To learn more about using TRUBLUEs in this industrial setting and see more thoughts from Scott Meinecke on why TRUBLUEs are changing the linemen industry, click here.

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Announcing CE Certification for TRUBLUE XL

TBXL-device-new label - web The TRUBLUE XL Auto Belay has received final certification for European safety standard BS EN 341 for personal protective equipment against falls from a height specific to descender devices.

TRUBLUE XL will now join the standard TRUBLUE Auto Belays as fully CE certified, a mandatory standard certifying that the TRUBLUE has met European Union safety, health and environmental protection requirements. With the final approval of CE certification, we are now able to provide copies of the official certification upon request.

Click here to learn more about the TRUBLUE line of products, the international safety standards they meet and all our other products with CE certification.

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Not Just For Climbing Gyms: 5 Unique Ways to Use an Auto Belay

Mount your QUICKjump and TRUBLUE side-by-side

Mount your QUICKjump and TRUBLUE side-by-side

An auto belay – the device that slowly lowers you to the ground without help from another person – is synonymous with climbing. Not anymore. An auto belay can be used for any instance where you need to get down to the ground in a reliable, comfortable, and controlled way. This could be an intentional descent, like to get down from a zip line platform, or as a safety-device to prevent falls. Broadening the definition of auto belay in this way means the applications are endless.

Here are five unique ways to use an auto belay:

1. Mount it next to a QUICKjump to give people an option for their descent off a platform – great for zip lines, ropes courses, amusement parks or recreation centers. Some people prefer a more relaxed descent compared to the thrill of the QUICKjump, so why don’t you offer another alternative? Using a TRUBLUE Auto Belay next to your QUICKjump lets people choose what kind of descent experience they want.

2. Put one on a treehouse, or a tree that your kids like to climb, or a backyard jungle gym. Treehouse Masters on Animal Planet did a camp-themed treehouse recently and put a TRUBLUE on a small climbing wall for the kids. {Check out the Behind the Scenes clip here.}

3. Forget climbing, use one to learn to repel like the Boy Scouts do. The idea is the scouts are clipped into the TRUBLUE while actually practicing a repel down the wall. If they make a mistake, the TRUBLUE catches and slowly lowers them to the ground.

4. Use it to reduce risk in industries working with heights. Tree climbers, window washers, linemen, construction crews – anyone who goes up high could benefit. TRUBLUEs are modular and easy-to-install, meaning they can move as your project progresses. Anytime you’re up high, with a risk of falling, consider mounting a TRUBLUE as a risk mitigation strategy.

5. Take your dog for a walk. We don’t recommend this, but hey, it worked for this guy.Dog Walk

How are you using an auto belay? Share your creative applications in the comments. 
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